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Farm families advocate Thomason announces retirement

UT Johnson County Extention Director Rick Thomason will retire Friday, December 13 after serving the citizens and framers of the county for the past 41 years. Submitted photo.

Submitted by Sarah Ransom

Rick moved to the county, right after graduating from UT as a Vocational Agriculture teacher for Johnson County High School. His first day of work in the county was January 1979. During his time in the county, Rick met and fell in love with Jahala. As the famous saying goes, after meeting the woman of his dreams… “the rest is history.”
Rick transitioned to working with Extension in 1992, where he served as an Assistant Extension Agent with responsibilities for the 4-H program. When Tom Fortune retired in 2001, Rick transitioned into working as an joint Extension agent, serving both youth and adult audiences within the field of agriculture and 4-H.
He also began serving as the Johnson County Extension Director. Now, after serving forty-one years in the field of agriculture—twenty-seven years and nine months later in Extension, Rick is ready to retire! The reason he began working in Extension is that he wanted “to have the opportunity to help improve people’s lives by providing information that would benefit farm families.”
Rick’s excited to be working full-time with his church, Central Baptist, and playing with his very precious grandchildren.
Rick loved many parts of Extension, but his favorite part of working within Extension is the many relationships that he has been blessed to build over the years. “Serving the people of Johnson County has been very rewarding. I have made so many friends not only in Johnson County but also throughout Tennessee and across the country.”
Not only are there many friends, but also many fond memories from his work through the years. Rick’s greatest satisfaction has come “from watching my former students be successful in life. I have worked long enough to be able to teach children and even grandchildren of some of my former students. I also cherish the many trips we’ve been on starting in FFA and 4-H to going on numerous beef cattle tours across the country. Just watching people’s eyes light up when they get to see new places and things. I know that had it not been for my job that I would have never been able to travel and see many of the places that I’ve been privileged to visit and learn from listening to how others operated and managed their farms.”
During his time in Extension, Rick organized and planned many Cattlemen’s Trips around the United States to view other farms, agricultural productions and visit historical landmarks along the way.
Rick states that “Extension is a way of life that involves pretty much every aspect of our lives. It takes the support of the entire family. My
late wife, Jahala, was
always by my side, helping with many Extension assignments, classes, workshops, field days, etc. Whether
serving voluntarily or by being drafted into service, our families play a major role in our work as Extension agents.”
While Rick may be completing his career in Extension work, he says that throughout Extension’s storied history, “we have been on a mission to help improve the lives of the citizens we serve. It has been a great honor to serve the citizens of Johnson County over these past 41 years, and I pray that I’ve been able to make a difference in at least one life or one family. If so, then I would consider my career a success.”
Thomason will enjoy a retirement party with coworkers friends and family, December 13, 2019.